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How does South Park get to make fun of all kinds of celebrities and sometimes even use photos of their faces in the cartoon? But we can't put celebrities on our t-shirts? What's the difference? Surely South Park didn't get permission to skewer Tom Cruise in their anti-scientology episode?
 

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Because Comedy Central can afford the legal team required?

Also, they are an established outlet of satire. To object to your depiction is to fail to "get the joke" and face an enormous backlash from the public (a la Tom Cruise). Whether or not what they do is legal, it is protected due to any objection making the publicity for that given celebrity that much worse.

Crushing little printers is much, much easier.
 

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I'm a HUGE South Park fan and I have my opinions on this....

Well, for one thing, they used his name, not his face. They actually drew his face on that episode. There is more than one person in the world named Tom Cruise. Maybe this was Tom Cruz? :) Sorry, but when it comes down to a court situation, those things DO MATTER. They can have all the obvious reasoning to believe it's the star, but when it comes down to it, he has no proof, especially when the beginning credits start with

ALL CHARACTERS AND EVENTS IN THIS SHOW--EVEN THOSE BASED ON REAL
PEOPLE--ARE ENTIRELY FICTIONAL. ALL CELEBRITY VOICES ARE
IMPERSONATED.....POORLY.

BUT, I don't have the answers for stars where they did use their faces. Like Mel Gibson. I would say they got his permission, but they really made him out to be psycho in The Passion of the Jew... Sadaam can't do anything, and David Hasselhoff was probably honored when Mr. Garrison got a nose job to look like him. They also used Barbara Streisands face on a halloween episode, they put her face in all 4 corners for the entire episode. In another one they drew her. So, with the Tom Cruise thing, they can do anything if it's not his real face I would assume. The others, I'm not sure...


By the way...
On an episode that aired in November 2005, which poked fun at Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology, all cast and crew names
in the closing credits were changed to "John Smith." Hahahah

I disagree with the "comedy central legal team" remark... If they're doing something illegal, and it's that obvious, it wouldn't matter how good their legal team is. Don't throw the OJ analogy at me either! This is the real world! Wait, so was that :)
 

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I would like to know how tshirthumor.com gets away with using people and products. If you read the "about us" section, they are former editorial cartoonists for major newspapers so they must know a loophole we don't know about!
 

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Natitown said:
I would like to know how tshirthumor.com gets away with using people and products. If you read the "about us" section, they are former editorial cartoonists for major newspapers so they must know a loophole we don't know about!
I took a peek at the shirts the above mentioned site are hawking... elected officials are fair game and there is no consequence for parody.
 

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There is also a difference between parody and satire using celebrities on a TV show (like South Park or Saturday Night Live) and using celebrity images on merchandise for sale.

Regarding tshirthumor, we don't know for sure that the corporations (or their legal teams) have seen the logo parodies.

Without knowing what phone calls and correspondence is going on behind the scenes, it's hard to say that they are "getting away with it".

Like Jay said that he received a cease and desist for one of his logo parodies. If you saw the t-shirt on his site before that, you may have thought he was "getting away with" selling those t-shirts, but we don't know about how many sales he made or what legal threats he received.

The same could be true for tshirthumor. They could be receiving legal threats and have their own legal team fighting lawsuits at this very moment. Or they could be flying under the radar for now.
 

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I think it has to do with the selling point. For south park the selling point is the shows characters themselves, cartman etc. When we tune in to watch the show it has always been for the wacky original characters. Even with the episodes having celebrities, the story line has always centered around one of the show characters. E.g. A Jay Z T-shirt where he poses next to a bently, the selling point here is Jay Z and not the bently.
 

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How do the get away with this?
You would have to ask them :)

Also read the rest of the posts above:

Rodney said:
Regarding tshirthumor, we don't know for sure that the corporations (or their legal teams) have seen the logo parodies.

Without knowing what phone calls and correspondence is going on behind the scenes, it's hard to say that they are "getting away with it".

Like Jay said that he received a cease and desist for one of his logo parodies. If you saw the t-shirt on his site before that, you may have thought he was "getting away with" selling those t-shirts, but we don't know about how many sales he made or what legal threats he received.

The same could be true for tshirthumor. They could be receiving legal threats and have their own legal team fighting lawsuits at this very moment. Or they could be flying under the radar for now.
If you're interested in doing those types of t-shirts, the best advice we can give is to contact a lawyer.
 

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Has it been 10 years already?! Wow.

I remember when that show first came out, I was floored at what they were doing. Cracked me up in a simple humor kinda way. I was surprised they didn't get booted after the first few shows.
 

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badandy52 said:
Can someone explain to me if there is anyway we can get away with using anything from cartoons such as characters from tv shows and so forth?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Ask a lawyer.

As a general rule though, if you want to basically take a character from a cartoon and print it on a t-shirt (i.e. Maggie Simpson whacked on the front of a baby romper) there is no way to legally do it without permission from the copyright holder.
 

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Rodney said:
There is also a difference between parody and satire using celebrities on a TV show (like South Park or Saturday Night Live) and using celebrity images on merchandise for sale.
If you think about this though, it's odd. They're making money too - they get people to watch, and then they are paid out by the advertisers. They are still using the celebrity likenesses for profit.

Rodney said:
I remember when that show first came out, I was floored at what they were doing. Cracked me up in a simple humor kinda way. I was surprised they didn't get booted after the first few shows.
You know what surprised me the most about the show? A lot of the episodes actually have a good, solid moral there behind the scenes! Certainly not all of them by any means, but there's a surprising amount of good moral lessons hidden in the background.
 

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Twinge said:
You know what surprised me the most about the show? A lot of the episodes actually have a good, solid moral there behind the scenes!
"You know guys, I've learned something today..."
 

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If you think about this though, it's odd. They're making money too - they get people to watch, and then they are paid out by the advertisers. They are still using the celebrity likenesses for profit.
It's a bit odd, but at the same time, I can understand the difference. Most of the time, a celebrity parody is only one part of the show. Take it out, and they still have some entertainment to make money from.

Take out the celebrity from a t-shirt with a picture of a celebrity on it, and you just have a blank t-shirt. The celebrity IS the selling point.

There's probably other differences as well, but that's the first I thought of :)
 

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One of the things that makes a parody legitimate is that the parody is making fun of the person or entity that it depicts.

If they put a cartoon of Mel Gibson in a South Park episode, they are making fun of him.

If you put a photo of Mel on a shirt, this is not a parody, you are just making money off of his likeness - even if YOU took the picture, you can't do this.

If you are an artist and you draw a caricature of Mel and put it on a t-shirt, you're making fun of him and therefore it is PROBABLY a legitimate parody.

If you draw a caricature of him and in the drawing he is holding a sign recommending your product, this doesn't qualify because it's not about making fun of him, it's about advertising your product.

There is actually a lot more to it than that, and you should research for yourself thoroughly (and probably talk to a lawyer) before you create a parody of something.

Here's a good article to start with:

http://www.publaw.com/parody.html
 

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That's a super article... Thanks Jasonda!
It's very interesting and I think all of you should read it.

'The Copyright Act in Section 107 enumerates four "fair use factors" that must be analyzed to determine whether a particular use of a copyrighted work, such as a parody, is fair use. These factors are the (1) purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is commercially motivated or instead is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) nature of the copyrighted work; (3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in the newly created work in relation to the copyrighted work; and (4) effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. A court when evaluating a fair-use defense takes into consideration each of the four factors as no single factor by itself is sufficient to prove or disprove fair use.' Interesting stuff...

It also gives an example - the Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. case, where a song was parodied and the Court decided that the the parody song mimicked the original to achieve its message and because it "reasonably could be perceived as commenting on the original or criticizing it, to some degree."

But here comes our problem: We can't comment a design. :D
If I create a parody design of Superman or Mel Gibson and put it on a t-shirt will that be considered a brake of the copyrights?
One thing is sure, if you ask permission you will allways be refused :)

I think that a lawyer will allways tell you not to do it because nothing is sure, you can win but you can also loose. But we like to play with fire and some of us will create parody designs from time to time. :rolleyes:

Have fun all!
 
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